Most Yalies still agree that “Harvard sucks.” But some may be casting aside the old adage “Princeton doesn’t matter” — at least as far as tailgating is concerned.
In light of stricter tailgating regulations at Harvard and the convenience of a home turf advantage this weekend, many Yale students say they are directing more attention toward Saturday’s game against Princeton than The Game next weekend. But it is not clear whether students at Princeton — which has already been statistically eliminated from contention for the Ivy League title — share in their enthusiasm.
The Yale-Princeton rivalry is a storied one, with Saturday’s game marking the 131st meeting between the two schools, the second-most of any match-up in college football history. But the game has received an extra boost this year because Harvard’s new tailgate restrictions have preemptively cast a shadow over The Game.
Anna Aleksandrova ’10, a member of Davenport’s Student Activities Committee, said she has noticed a lack of excitement around the Harvard-Yale game since tight tailgate restrictions were put into place at The Game in 2006.
“I remember the first year Harvard instituted the Draconian rules, so to speak,” Alexandrova said. “It kind of deafened the spirit. It doesn’t make sense to go all the way up to Harvard, pay 15 dollars for a ticket and not have a good time.”
Other Yalies say that their newfound focus on Princeton is only a result of convenience, not a lack of Harvard rivalry.
“From what I remember last year, the Princeton game wasn’t really that big of a deal,” Daniel Esannson ’11 said. “I definitely think there is a greater effort this year because we have the chance to enjoy ourselves to the fullest extent on our home turf.”
The proximity of the Yale Bowl to campus makes things easier for organizers, too. Bobby Gibbs ’10, the co-chairman of the Jonathan Edwards College Student Activities Committee, said the real problem with organizing the Harvard-Yale tailgate lies in the logistical difficulty of organizing an event to be held 135 miles away.
“We are able to offer more at our Princeton tailgate because it is in New Haven and easier to transport things like hot foods,” he said.
But what makes Saturday’s game appealing for students — its location — appears to be a significant deterrent for Elis’ Princeton counterparts. Seven out nine Princeton students interviewed said they are too busy with work to take the bus to New Haven for the game.
Perhaps this is because Princeton’s real rival is Penn. Princeton typically holds a celebratory bonfire in years that the football team beats both Yale and Harvard, so the Quakers are not all that matter. But Princeton already lost to Harvard, so a potential bonfire does not stand as an incentive in luring Princeton students to make the trek to New Haven, said Mike Weinberg, a member of Princeton’s student government who organized transportation for students to New Haven.
Turnout on Saturday among Princeton students is expected to be modest. As of Thursday, Weinberg said Princeton planned to send only one bus of students to the game. That’s a departure from two years ago, when busloads of students headed north to the Elm City.
In other words, to Princeton, Yale sometimes matters — just not this year.
“It’s more of a case-by-case basis,” Princeton freshman Cami Kaluarai said.
Courtney Pannell contributed reporting.